Signs, Symbols, & Other Wonders

55F with rain in the Heartland this morning. Knowing what was coming we worked outside all day yesterday. Raking leaves and power washing the pergola over the patio. Taking advantage of the warm temps and sunny skies while we could. I’m guessing yesterday might be the last really nice day of the year, though I never bet against warm weather. Most of our weather surprises these days tend to be spells of unusually warm weather when it’s supposed to be otherwise. The point being that we got a lot done yesterday and were exhausted by the end of the day. So much so that taking today “off” will be well deserved. Not that there aren’t always more chores requiring attention, but today’s leisure has been earned and we won’t feel at all bad about a little loafing on this Friday.

I spoke with a tech at ICOM’s service center in Michigan yesterday about the display problem with my IC-7610 and made plans to send it to them for repair, but not until after the CQ WW Contest (CW). Despite the fact that it’s a display issue and the serial number of my transceiver is in the group that ICOM agreed to replace all displays at no cost, mine might end up costing $500. The problem I’m experiencing (a single column of dead pixels) isn’t the same problem experienced by many owners (retention & washed out display) so they will have to inspect it first. If they determine it’s not covered under the free replacement policy then the new screen with labor and shipping will add up to about five-hundred bucks. I don’t have much choice, it needs to be fixed in case I ever want to sell or trade it.

Can I tell you a secret? Sometimes I think about selling the 7610, the 9700, and even the 705 and using those funds to buy a new K4D transceiver. I have a much loved K2 that I built (#524) in 1999, a factory assembled KX3, and a new KH1 ordered on October 20th that could show up on the doorstep any day now. The K4D would be a welcome addition to my shack and put me back on a path that I assumed I’d always traverse many years ago. There would still be that closet full of QRP transceivers of questionable lineage, but ignoring those, I would be an Elecraft guy again. It’s just a notion I kick around in my head during the still of the night and will likely never come to pass…

I’m a contrarian by nature so it should come as no surprise that I’m one of the few who has reservations about the FCC action to remove symbol rate restrictions on our HF bands. Everywhere I look all I see are joyful expressions of how this will fix so much of what has been holding the amateur radio service back from achieving its full potential. Good grief, just typing those words feels like a boatload of malarkey. I understand the issue, and can smell what its proponents are shoveling, but I have doubts. In fact, I predict that no stunning new technology will emerge from this action, but that a large increase in interference complaints from HF enthusiasts will be noted. And of course hams will blame ARRL for all this, even though they begged for it, because that’s how hams roll. Blaming Newington for everything that goes wrong – or right – is our standard operating procedure. Mark these words…

I’m off podcasts again. These once were a staple during my drive time, but they were slowly edged out by audio books. Being retired I no longer commute to and from work, but I still spend almost an hour a day walking with air pods stuck in my head. I’m always listening to choice selections from Audible. The latest few books in my library have been the Bernie Taupin biography, Scattershot, the post-World War II scientist expose, Operation Paperclip, and at the moment I’m halfway though the latest Grey Man novel, Burner. Queued up next is the just released UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Hereā€”and Out There. Who’s got time to listen to podcasts?

The Worked All States Triple Play Award plaque arrived yesterday and is already on the wall. Working and confirming all 50 states, each using CW, Phone, and Digital was an accomplishment I wouldn’t have thought possible when I was a Novice. A more seasoned operator wouldn’t see it as a difficult achievement, but I found obtaining 150 confirmations via LoTW was no easy task. I was “stuck” at 149 for nearly two years needing a single Phone confirmation from anyone worked in Utah. I decided if and when that ever showed up I would order the plaque, not just the paper certificate, as I felt that was deserved.

On Injured List

The main display on my IC-7610 has developed a problem. A single column of dead pixels running from the top to the bottom about in the center of the display has appeared. It has no impact on the operation of the equipment, but it’s an annoying distraction and, given ICOM’s problems with this particular display, has me concerned it could worsen. Right now I’m trying to get in touch with someone to have them tell me where it needs to be shipped for repair. While the unit is long out of warranty, ICOM has been providing no-cost replacements for displays on 7610’s with certain serial numbers and mine falls in that group.

I guess we will see if the company lives up to that promise.

Because it still functions, I wouldn’t ship it back to the factory until after the upcoming CQ WWDX CW contest. That’s going to be my last best chance of the year to closeout my DX Marathon entry for 2023. Last year I managed to work 123 entities and went into 2023 with high hopes of working at least 150. I never came close as the summer episodes took me off the air for months and now here I sit, a week before Thanksgiving, with only 96 entities worked this year.

At this point I’d be happy with a hundred and look to 2024 for better results.

That cause was helped a little yesterday when I worked TX7L on 10 CW. I was beginning to think I might miss them too, but I got lucky. I understand they are just past the halfway point in their operation so there should be a few more opportunities to get them on other bands and modes though that won’t help me in the 2023 Marathon. I’m going to need a handful of “new” entities in the CQ WW DX contest just to get to a hundred, with maybe a few extra “just in case” entries and then the 7610 will be headed somewhere for repair.

With the main transceiver on the injured list for a month or two, I’ll have to move the IC-705 up in the rotation. I’m a grizzled enough QRPer that I look forward to that low-power challenge and the transceiver is a delight to use, especially with a decent antenna. I used to have an IC-7300 as a backup, but I got rid of it a year or so ago and haven’t looked back.

This temporary juggling of equipment has me thinking that I need to get busy selling off a lot of excess gear that has been idle in the garage for far too long. I hate selling equipment…